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Currently Browsing: erotic romance
Dec
29

Review: Mastered by Maya Banks

Review: Mastered by Maya Banks Mastered Author: Maya Banks Reviewer: VampBard Rating: DNF What I’m Talking About: It’s always interesting to pick up a new book, new series by an author I’ve read and love. Much like my #dayjob, it’s a new adventure every day. I never know what I’m going to get, and while I’ve adored stuff I’ve read in the past, sometimes I just can’t get out of there fast enough. Sometimes I think, “Oh, maybe things will turn around.” Sometimes that doesn’t happen, and that was the case for me, reading Mastered by Maya Banks. What I liked was the world-building. The Enforcers is a new series by Ms. Banks, and I *like* the alpha male characters. I want to learn more about them, and I sincerely hope future titles in this series don’t annoy me. Yes, I will continue to read (unless I’m put-off by something in subsequent books). The secondary characters were engaging, and I found myself looking for more interactions between the major and minor characters. Drake, our alpha hero Dom was broody, and I like me a good broody alpha male. He was also broken, and I like to watch the journey a broken alpha takes through a book. Then, there was the bad. Evangeline, our lead female, was too whiny and wishy-washy for me. She was inexperienced, and that didn’t bode well for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good virgin-hooking-up-with-a-Dom story. Evangeline, however, didn’t seem to do anything to educate herself. It seemed like she lived in a vacuum, and never got on the Internet or anything. Her interactions with Drake seemed forced, and while I did see her stand up for herself, it wasn’t in a positive, empowering way that was believable for me. What made me DNF Mastered was the way the BDSM element was handled. Drake, as a Dom, knows better than to not use a safeword. He explained the lifestyle in a sketchy manner to Evangeline, and I didn’t like that. I get that Evangeline (his Angel…) was inexperienced and he didn’t want to scare her, but I think he should have been more forthright with regard to his preferences, expectations, and needs with her. I mean, Evangeline had ONE previous sexual experience and it sucked. I wasn’t surprised at all that Drake could be a giver in bed. Good Doms are. Drake and Evangeline had one sweet encounter in the title—I liked that part. Then, in the next...
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Dec
22

Review: Calling the Play by Samantha Kane

Review: Calling the Play by Samantha Kane Calling the Play Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Tyler Oakes knows he’s on his last chance to make it as a pro quarterback, so he’s toned down his partying and is trying to focus on playing the game. But sometimes he needs to scratch an itch, and it doesn’t matter to him if companionship comes from males, females, or both at the same time. But when he meets undercover cop Randi McInish, he knows he wants more than just one night with this foul-mouthed sex pot. And then there is the Rebels’ new quarterback coach, Brian Mason, who shares a history with Tyler. When it’s clear that the two men have unspoken issues to resolve, can Randi step aside and let them discover love? Despite struggling with some issues while reading the first book in the series, I decided to give Calling the Play a shot. Unfortunately, after only hitting the 10% mark, I had to stop reading for two reasons. First – it was pretty obvious that this story was once again going to include a romance between a player and a coach. I had issues with how this was handled in the first book, and I was already cringing at the replay of this dynamic. Second – I couldn’t stand the heroine. She was simply obnoxious. I admire women who are all about “this is who I am and this is what you get,” but it was over the top. Her vocabulary pretty much only consisted of multiple 4-letter words strung together. I don’t mind a potty-mouth, but there is a time and place, and this felt forced. However, after taking a break from the book for a few weeks, I decided to pick it up again, and I’m happy to report, ended up enjoy it – more so than the first book. While I still had some issues with the book and the characters, overall, I liked the story and romance of Tyler, Randi, and Brian. While Randi still bugged me from time to time, I liked that she was protective of Ty, and eventually Brian. Additionally, as the story progressed, her level of unpleasantness toned down considerably. Meanwhile, the coach-player issue didn’t play out as it did in the first book, and I found I wasn’t irritated by the Brian-Tyler dynamic because 1) they have a history and 2) it’s still preseason and they aren’t in a player-coach...
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Nov
3

Review: The Exhibitionist by Tara Sue Me

Review: The Exhibitionist by Tara Sue Me The Exhibitionist Author: Tara Sue Me Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I’ve been reading Tara Sue Me’s Submissive series for a while now. I’ve loved it because it shows how a real couple, albeit a *rich* couple, navigate a relationship. That’s why I fell in love with it. Today, after reading The Exhibitionist and sleeping on it, I’m still pretty much stuck as to why I’m not feelin’ this title. I think it’s the conflict. Like in some romance titles, there’s internal conflict. Nothing that’s *really* external for both Nathaniel and Abby. I’m pretty sure that was it, because the issues didn’t *seem* that big. Maybe it’s because of my own relationship with Mr. VampBard that this really annoys me. Abby has something that bothers her. Remember Charlene from previous books? Yeah. She’s still hanging around. Abby’s jealousy is, I think, her conflict, whereas Nathaniel’s conflict is wondering if he is enough. There are some seriously hot play sessions, as well as some sweet sex in this title. I felt like I was hopping from one sex scene to the next, and the connective tissue was superficial in many cases. We learn more about Jeff & Dena, and I’m glad—I needed to see their HEA after reading their book. We learn in the end matter that Sasha & Cole get a book (or maybe I’m just reading into the foreshadowing in the book as well as the sneak peek). I know not every relationship is picture-perfect. It’s gotta be hard for authors to keep coming up with stuff readers want. I actually understand the reason for a book like this. It’s important to relate the exhibitionist side some people have. Many of us are more demonstrative in public, versus keeping all that for behind closed doors. One thing I think was covered well in this title was the way people continue to grow and change. It’s important that we recognize these changes in our significant others, and TALK about it. Needs, wants, and desires change over time. How we evolve as a couple, in the face of these changes, is what matters. I think that element of the internal conflict could’ve been handled better. I’m still interested in picking up more titles in the Submissive series. I’m not breaking up with the series or anything. This title just didn’t do it for me. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About...
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Oct
13

Review: Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker

Review: Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker Craving Flight Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: I *adore* stories about people that are different. Especially people that have a secret. A secret that’s taboo amongst the circles in which someone travels. *wrings hands gleefully* [This content redacted because it was spoilerific] When a college world religions professor, immersed in the Orthodox Jewish community as a life choice, decides to marry within her Church after a divorce, she already has a few strikes against her. Plot-wise. In the big picture. Not in my eyes, though. I thought Tzipporah was following her beliefs, and attempting to be true to herself within the defined rules of her religion. Being authentic is something we all struggle with every day. Okay, maybe not *all* of us, but most of us. What makes Tzipporah’s secret so damning is that it needs to be kept from her beau. At first, I was thinking, “This girl is going to get into a marriage and she’s going to be a closet sub. So NOT ending well.” Any organization—whether religion-based, socially based, or politically based—has rules of conduct. We don’t stand up at the random murder-mystery party and shout, “I’m a submissive, and I am proud!” Can you imagine the gossip? The dirty looks? The hostile stares because people wish they were you? Exactly. That’s why we don’t do it. I guess the thing that got me most about Tzipporah was her faith that she’d find a husband who would meet her needs. However, if we look at Tzipporah’s growth through the book, there’s TONS of positives. I didn’t know what to think about Elan. Until the end. Ms. Parker kept me guessing about him. There were lots of things that drew me to Elan. He was like an really nice bottle of Polish vodka, opened for the first time and allowed to breathe—full of promise and potentially painful the next morning. He was an enigma; I couldn’t get a bead on him from Tzipporah’s point-of-view. I can’t imagine what kind of hell that put HER through. (Ignore the fact that I talk about these characters as though they’re living, breathing people).I can’t talk about Elan anymore without being spoilery. *zips lip* I have only one complaint about Craving Flight: I feel like I was book-gypped. You know, when you’re reading along on your Kindle and you think you’ve got another thirty minutes immersed with your new friends in Romancelandia? Then, BAM!...
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Oct
7

Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy

Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy Claimed Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: *wipes drool from chin* You. Guys. I have absolutely NO idea how to coherently explain how IN LOVE I am will Claimed, Elle Kennedy’s first title in her Outlaw series. First, I want to clearly state—for the record—I am in a book coma. I also stayed up WAAAYYY too late reading last night because of this title. Also, don’t let my genre category-thing below mislead you: Claimed is post-apocalyptic/dystopian/erotic romance. Apparently, retailers don’t have that category. THEY SHOULD. I’d be all over it. Of course, future titles in this category have a pretty high bar to meet, as I’d make Ms. Kennedy’s venture into this genre the standard. Five super hot and sexy guys. One spit-fire blonde. Making their way in a future so different from our reality. The world-building is fabulous. I had images of a war-ravaged world in my head throughout the book. It’s almost like The Walking Dead meets The Stand without all the gore. I liked watching the relationships between the characters evolve. Just when I thought I would be able to put down my Kindle and do the dishes or flip laundry, something else would be revealed—and I’d keep reading instead of doing other stuff. My inner narrative as I read, if I had to put it in a sentence, would be: Oohhh… I wonder how THIS is going to work out… Each new reveal in the world-building or in character development drew me in further. At about the 55% mark, I went to my auto-buy list (because I may be guilty of having that note on my phone…) and added this series. I don’t usually do that until I hit the end and decide whether I like the resolution and forward-movement into the next book of the series. If you’re not into menage, you might want to pass… but it’s not super in-your-face, and it IS Super. Hot. *fans self* There’s a Dominant/submissive vibe going on, and I encourage everyone that gets into these subgenres to get all grabby-hands for this title. Rylan is our third in the menage scenes, and I have a bit of a crush on him. He’s funny, and he clearly knows his role in the relationship. Being Connor’s bestie (our hero!), he’s learned to read his friend like a book. They live together, fight together, and have come together to survive in this world they grew...
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Aug
27

Review + #Giveaway : Broken Play by Samantha Kane

Review + #Giveaway : Broken Play by Samantha Kane Broken Play Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Broken Play is the first book in a new erotic romance series by Samantha Kane. The series follows the players of the fictional Birmingham Rebels NFL expansion team. Cass Zielinski, captain of the Rebels, leads this team full of misfits and has-beens who know this is their last chance to make it. Beau Perez, Cass’s best friend, is a recovering addict. Cass will do anything to protect his friend, and the pair do EVERYTHING together. The final piece of Broken Play’s menage is Marian Treadwell, the Rebels new female assistant coach. Marian has many secrets, including the fact that her father is a famous college coach. While Broken Play holds a lot of promise, it was more about hot and erotic sex scenes than a lot of substance. It is a menage romance, and there is some emotional growth and development between Cass, Beau, and Marian, but it’s mostly framed by sex. There are promising external dynamics… like a last-chance football team looking to make its mark and a female coach in a male-dominated profession. However these side stories get little attention, and there is no plot development to go along with them. Additionally, conflict in the form of a homophobic player comes up once, yet is never addressed again. If these aspects of the book had been developed more, I think the book would have been stronger. What the book does have going for it are super erotic, multi-partner sex scenes. However, I feel it necessary to give a small warning to those “no lube” critics, lube is never once mentioned during the rear-entrance scenes. Additionally, the mention of condom use is sporadic and inconsistent. Regardless of the condom and lube issues, the scenes are very hot, and while they are going on, I can mostly forget my concerns over the professional relationship aspect. However, the fact is these people are teammates and she is a coach, so it did bother me. My biggest issue with the entire book is the portrayal of Marian as a coach. I get that she has massive demons to exorcise. I understand that she’s non-conventional and has spent her whole like suppressing who she is. I have no issues with her desires and applaud her journey of self-discovery and acceptance. However, she is one of the team’s assistant coaches, which should come with job standards and an expectation...
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Aug
11

Review: The Espionage Effect by Kat & Stone Bastion

Review: The Espionage Effect by Kat & Stone Bastion The Espionage Effect Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Shhh. Don’t judge me. If I ever have the privilege to meet Kat & Stone Bastion, I’ll totally fangirl all over them. That’s a warning, and everyone should save me from embarrassing myself.The Espionage Effect grabbed me by the neurons, tossed in some endorphins, a healthy dose of hormones, and let the adrenaline soar. In other words, it was one helluva ride. I was completely intrigued when I learned about The Espionage Effect. It’s no secret I’ve been a Kat fan from the first page of Forged in Dreams and Magick (also, ITCHING for Born of Mist and Legend…), and my love of her writing extended—and possibly expanded—in the No Weddings series, co-authored by her awesome hubs, Stone. Naturally, I was entirely geeked to read The Espionage Effect. Gotta be honest. I’m picky about my romantic suspense titles/authors. I kind of have to know they’re solid in their craft before I’ll dive in and read. I know. Not fair. It’s the only way I can do RS, though. Readers will find that while this title is sort of romantic suspense, it’s really more action-adventure—with the usual suspense tossed in for that genre. The romance IS there. And… It. Is. Sooooo. Hot!!! Tall, cool glass of somethin’-somethin’ needed, folks. And a fan. And maybe a fainting couch to catch you when you swoon. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I write a lot about how I connect with characters. The Espionage Effect review is no different. I feel like I *know* these characters. I *understand* their backstories. I *empathize* with them and their situations. Well, not the whole spy part. The closest I’ve come to being a spy is when I sit at Starbucks and people watch… and make up their ‘story’ as I observe. This was an extremely fast-paced book. I don’t think there was really any down-time; nowhere obvious to take a break from reading (although I was forced to, grudgingly, put my Kindle down in favor of interacting with people, periodically). One event led logically and seamlessly to the next throughout the title. The few minor characters in The Espionage Effect are necessary to round out the plot, are not extraneous, and are all planned and purposeful. No fluff or incidental characters to clog my brain. All the minor characters were likable (until they’re meant to NOT be likable),...
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Aug
4

Book Spotlight: Seduced in Secret by Shiloh Walker

Book Spotlight: Seduced in Secret by Shiloh Walker Release Day Spotlight: About the Book: Best laid plans…are meant to be broken. Life laid out, Tessa had everything set. Engaged to marry the perfect man, a rich, great-looking doctor, she was content with her life, or so she thought. Then the gift arrived. Delivered to her office on Valentine’s Day, it was filled with handcuffs, sexy little toys and a suggestive little card. It wasn’t from her fiancé, either. When the emails and the phone started coming, she should have been able to brush them off, except the man said something that left her uneasy…and not because he scared her, but because he was right. Your fiancé will never make you happy, Tessa. Confused, she starts looking at her fiancé, her life…and other things…in a whole new light. One of the things she finds herself considering is her best friend and neighbor, Caleb. He’s always been there. Even when he spent years in the Navy, Caleb was the one she could count on and now isn’t any different. He’s there to listen when she needs an ear and he’s got nice, strong shoulders when she needs one to lean on. It doesn’t her long to realize that one thing is certain—her fiancé can’t make her happy. But now she doesn’t know whether she wants to take a chance on her sexy secret admirer…or Caleb, the man who’s been there waiting for her all along. It includes a short bonus story called Don’t Walk Away. Read an excerpt on Shiloh’s blog HERE Seduced in Secret was previously published as Whipped Cream and Handcuffs. It has been extensively rewritten, revised and expanded. Purchase Links: iBooks | Kobo | Amazon | BN A little about Shiloh: Shiloh Walker is an award-winning writer…yes, really! She’s also a mom, a wife, a reader and she pretends to be an amateur photographer. She published her first book in 2003. Her newest series, Secrets and Shadows, launched with Deeper than Need, followed by Sweeter than Sin and Darker than Desire. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance, and urban fantasy under the name J.C. Daniels. Learn more about Shiloh and her books here: Website | Facebook | Twitter @shilohwalker | Tumblr | Pinterest |...
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Jul
24

Review: Caged by Lorelei James

Review: Caged by Lorelei James Caged Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I could seriously look at Caged as a study in symbolism. From the title alone, we can draw conclusions. Knowing, however, that Deacon is an MMA cage fighter, seems to superficially take away the mystery. Superficially. This fourth offering in Lorelei James’ The Mastered series is anything but superficial. There was a LOT going on in this book. I didn’t need a scorecard or anything; this couple—Deacon and Molly—seemed to have one thing after another come up. With so much going on, and having these threads expertly twisted into a thick plot rope, it was super difficult to put down Caged once I started reading. Stupid meals that don’t cook themselves. Stupid work. I really want to give some little nibbles of the plot. *sits on hands* But that would be spoilery, and I don’t roll that way. Oh! The pacing is fabulous. I was invested in the characters from the beginning, and knew it would be a good story. Especially when Deacon told Molly, “We’re gonna happen.” I totally believed him, and questioned why we needed to read around 400 pages more. As far as I was concerned, once the couple agreed to go out, they were goners. Molly has appeared in previous titles in the series as a minor character. She was attacked, and took a class at the dojo so she could protect herself. It was really cool to see Molly as a main character in Caged, because she has had tons of growth across the series. She’s no longer the mousey, scared-of-her-own-shadow, girl we met at the beginning of the series. Even within this title, Molly had a ton of growth. I like her. A lot. She speaks her mind, and doesn’t allow herself to be treated like a doormat. Any more. Even though she battles some of her own demons, she’s really strong. I’d totally hang out with her if we were neighbors or worked together. Deacon is the epitome of tortured alpha. He resembles Ronin’s emotional behavior a lot and has other parallels, which was a bit of an irritant at a couple points through the book because I felt it cheapened Deacon for me. Regardless, what made me fall for Deacon is his focus, tenderness, and his growth. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that he’s a big guy and tremblingly gorgeous. I adored his confidence with regard to his relationship...
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Jul
13

Review: Under Contract by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: Under Contract by Jeffe Kennedy Under Contract Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: It is not Celestina Sala’s best day. As a waterscape landscaper in the middle of a California drought, she lost her job. Everything has gone bad for her lately, and losing her job was the proverbial straw. She’s in debt and living well beyond her means; however, it wasn’t a life of excess, but rather a series of unfortunate events that landed her there. Now she has to figure out what is best for herself and her two nieces she is raising alone. Ryan Black, an eccentric tycoon, thinks it’s serendipitous seeing Tina the day she loses her job. When she did work for his company a few years ago, only her wedding band kept him from acting on his desires for her. Now she’s in trouble, and he’s got a solution to both of their problems: he’ll pay her to be his sexual playmate. The plot line for Under Contract isn’t necessarily new, but how main character Ryan views his “payment for services” adds an interesting and unique element to the story. This story is not that of Indecent Proposal. This is a man who wants a woman, but discovers she’s not in a place in her life where he can take her to lunch and sweep her off her feet. Ryan is not black and white and doesn’t see his proposal how Tina does: prostitution. Rather, to him it’s a win-win, and no one needs to label it. What makes Ryan’s proposition palatable is that 1) Ryan intrigues Tina, 2) he gives her complete control, and 3) Tina’s problems are serious and real. She’s borderline desperate. Ryan makes her see the truth of her situation, which is utterly dire. The author does such a fabulous job outlining Tina’s financial troubles that I felt her desperation and was stressed out. So when Ryan makes her a deal, I love Tina’s honest reactions ranging from disgust with herself for being a prostitute to being seriously turned on by Ryan. She’s out of her league and knows it, but also realizes she’s got to do something to change her situation. I’ll admit feeling a bit uncomfortable in my skin because Tina feels that way. Ms. Jeffe doesn’t sugar coat her story or the proposal: it is prostitution, but Ryan wants to possess Tina and sees it as a means to the end. Under Contract explores a...
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